Wednesday, 27 February 2008


A couple of months ago, I received a comment on this blog from someone in Weil who expressed the wish that I write more about my view as an Englishman of life in Germany. In reply, I said I would see what I can do.

I must admit that, up till now, I've consciously avoided going on big treatises in this blog about Germany and the Germans. It has a lot to do with the fact that I'm half-German myself anyway, although I was born and grew up in the UK. After having spent a total of nine years living in the Fatherland (or, technically speaking, the Mutterland), I'm certainly used to living here and have learned to adapt to (or accept) certain aspects of German life which didn't come naturally to me before.

For example:

1. I respect the house rules in my apartment block, such as "quiet times" forbidding loud music, farting and such like. Most of the time.
2. I am more direct with other people than I used to be. (Having said this, I still follow the rules of British etiquette most of the time, and I am still rather too wortkarg for my own good when trying to woo the opposite sex.)
3. I've picked up German dialect: "gleeechfolls" anyone?

On the other hand:

1. I don't necessarily think German bread is superior to bread in other countries.
2. I don't normally do Kaffee und Kuchen and still prefer a nice cuppa (milk, no sugar).
3. I like opening windows in trains (the older models without air con) when the weather is 35C and don't think the cooling draft will do me any harm.

However, one thing that I cannot and will never adjust to is the teutonic idea of queuing.

Now, I think plenty of young contemporary Germans have spent their obligatory six months learning English on the South Coast or in London and have reported back to their parents about strange people waiting orderly in lines at post offices, banks and the like. "Seeehr seltsam!"

You see, in Germany queuing is regarded as a weakness. Instead, Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest is played out here on a daily basis. You wait at the bus stop with a score of other people. Bus arrives. Regardless who was waiting before you, average German must get on bus as quickly as possible and will take no prisoners in his/her mission to claim last free seat... If you are slow (or British), you resign yourself to letting the frenzy die down and get on the bus last - smiling smugly as you know you're now annoying everyone who got on the bus first a few minutes previously.

Just the other day I was pushed unceremoniously out of the way by some hoodie at the Badischer Bahnhof while waiting to get on the bus. My crime, I suspect, was trying to be competitive and joining in the scrum. I just sighed and let the idiot through. That'll teach me. It's just not worth getting hot under the collar about any more.

I find the younger and older generations are the worst - the younger because they don't know any better; the older because they couldn't care less anymore. Supermarket cash desks are where this game is most traditionally played out. This account describes what happens far better than I could...


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon...

I've not looked at all of the older posts/ archive to know if you've posted it previously...but I'd like to send you a quick email. Where to?

Vielen dank!

- Steve

Simon said...



simon_jones at